|Gary Reed's "A Cross To Bare" at Superior Lib.|
As in year's past sweet sounds from a string chamber quartet swam through the air like a gentle breeze. Superior's Friends of the Library generously supplied an assortment of cookies, fruit, crackers and cheeses, and some wondrous fudge, amongst other things. And there was was wine.
Something I have found interesting is how many people in Duluth seem to be unaware of what is happening on the Superior side of the bridge, as if it were a foreign country. It is only five minutes away by bridge (maybe seven) and Duluthians are missing out on some very special places over there. And yet, when I asked various attendees at the Superior event if they were going to cross over to Duluth for the art shows there, most did not plan to do so for various reasons. I really do like the slogan I heard from a Superior artist last year: "It's just a bridge. Get over it." It goes both ways.
Next stop was Emily Wendland's Transcendental Terrain accompanied by the musical expressions of Marc Gartman's Fever Dream. Gartman opened for Low at Mitchell Auditorium this past month. This mix of music and art has a lot going for it. The PRØVE has been doing this some in its second year, and it has worked well in other venues from The Red Mug to Washington where Andrew Floberg's work was specially enhanced by the seasoning of sound.
Heading down the alley we quickly arrived at the PRØVE for its Bitters show, which would also play host to a poetry reading at 8:30. Bitters, curated by poet Kathleen Roberts who joined the collective last summer, focused on the dark side of Valentine's Day. Thematically, some of the work was challenging.
The six poets who shared were the highlight for me, a rich dessert after numerous courses of deliciousness. Roberts opened the first set of four poets with a piece titled, "For My Boyfriend After His One Night Stand." Her poems were personal and visceral, setting the table for what would follow, a mix of pointed vexation, caustic humor and unpalatable heartbreak.
It was impressive to see the packed gallery so attentive and responsive to these poets. The next two presenters were from the poetry slam school, not just reading their work but elevating it to theater.
Seth Feralin of St. Paul began by stating, "I live in desperate search for self." His delivery was polished as he performed poems like "Clayton" and "Misogyny in Rap Music" which was a powerful indictment of rap scenes toleration and promotion of abuse and hatred of women. There were many rich lines and a lot of amens would have been shouted had this been a Pentecostal church instead of a poetry reading. (O.K., some of the imagery would not be used in a pulpit.)
Paris Kelvakis raised the energy level with poems like "The Pimp's Paradox" and stories about pigs and betrayal. He called his last piece about the Portuguese Man-O-War the most important poem he's ever written, its theme being the necessary interconnectedness we all share.
Based on the caliber of talent represented, it would not surprise me to learn that someone in this room would be a future poet laureate somewhere.